Breakthroughs in Education and Social Mobility Research Speaker Series

For low-income and minority students, education is the key to success and upward mobility. But evidence has shown in past decades that education has not been acting as the Great Equalizer. The Breakthroughs in Education and Social Mobility Research speaker series brings to light the most promising research illuminating the educational pathways to upward mobility. The series features some of the nation’s top scholars who are uncovering innovative and insightful evidence about what inhibits and enhances mobility.

The series contributes to a new synthesis of findings informing education and social mobility policy and practice in the coming years. This goal is aligned with the long-term mission of the Equity Project at AIR, which is to work with others to open the doors of opportunity for all children and young adults.

Mark Schneider, AIR vice president and Institute Fellow, and Anthony Carnevale, professor and director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, met on May 18, 2015 (event details) to discuss whether or not a bachelor's degree is still the doorway to the middle class, and whether or not it makes sense to spend four years in college obtaining a liberal arts degree.

In this video, Peter Cookson, director of equity in education at AIR, talks with Anthony Carnevale about the relationship between college education, careers, and earning potential.

Here, Mark Schneider examines the value of different types of credentials and whether a bachelor's is still necessary to earn middle class wages.

Richard MurnaneOn February 18, 2015 (event details), Richard Murnane, economist and co-author of Restoring Opportunity: The Crisis of Inequality and the Challenge for American Education, spoke about proven initiatives that are changing the lives of low-income American children from pre-kindergarten through high school, and identify barriers that prevent evidence-based programs and policies from going to scale. He also shared his vision for increasing opportunity for children across the U.S.

Our first speaker was Isabel V. Sawhill, on November 5, 2014 (event details). Dr. Sawhill is a senior fellow in economics studies at the Brookings Institution, where she serves as co-director of the Center on Children and Families. She spoke about the center's recent work on the Social Genome Project—an endeavor that tracks the academic, social and economic experiences of individuals from birth through middle age. Dr. Sawhill and her colleagues hope to identify what determines success in each stage of the lifecycle.